Authors: Allan Richard Shickman
HAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT
“Allan Richard Shickman's
is a terrifically exciting adventure that will appeal to young adults and their elders too. Richly imagined and beautifully written, with characters and settings unlike any I've read, I believe
will be read and reread for many years to come.”
â Scott Phillips, best-selling author of
The Ice Harvest
“Highly recommended for young adult library collections.”
The Midwest Book Review, Children's Bookwatch
is told with such verve, energy, and style that it will appeal to all ages and sensibilities.â¦Shickman's lively imagination is obvious on every page.â¦The power of Shickman's words becomes apparent in the very first chapter.â¦ heart-pounding proseâ¦”
â Robert A. Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light
“I refused to turn off the lights because I was enjoying Zan-Gah so much, and the next dayâ¦I took it with me on the subway to get those last few pages in between Brooklyn and Manhattan. This 35-year-old loved itâ¦I kept saying âI know it's supposed to be a children's bookâ¦but it's really,
â Sadie Nardini, Yoga master
and author of
Road Trip Guide to the Soul
“An unexpected gem.â¦that has the rare combination of rich characters and fast-paced plot. I have already recommended it to several of my big readers, and each has had nothing but praise.â¦ On my short list.”
â Joe Corbett, school librarian
“Rich with character, plot, and emotion. I was amazed. I felt like I was reading Kipling.”
â Barry Crook, Library Media Specialist
is the perfect book for boys, girls, teens, parents, and grandparents. You will love it.”
â Joan Bartelow, middle and high school reading teacher
is one of the best books I ever readâ¦a truly gripping book. The characters are so real I feel like I know them. It gets deep into the mind of not only one, but several. I give this book five stars. I could read it over and over.”
â Sam L., age 13
“Zan-Gah was very interesting for a girl my age. I would read it again.”
â Elaine H., age 15
“I read a lot of books, so I know a good book when I see one.
is full of creativity and suspense. A wonderful book.”
â Elan S., age 11
“I am going to ask my teacher to read it to the class.”
â Rider S., age 12
, I entered a world that was terrifying, yet beautiful. This book left me where the best novels aways doâwanting more.”
â Bonnie M., teacher
“There are parts of
that I keep thinking about even though I read the story several months ago. I imagined it so much that it feels like I saw the movie of it too.”
â Jonah H., age 10
“I dreamed about Zan-Gah in the red terrain of the Land of Red Rocks.
really seeped into me.”
â Ally B., Jonah's mom, psychologist
“I felt transported into another time. I could not put
down until I finished it, and I cried at the end. The words are delicious. For ages 11 to 111.”
â Patricia G., English teacher
to a group of students up to age 13. Each and every one of them enjoyed the adventures of this brave boy. What courage and resourcefulness Zan-Gah exhibited to those children.”
â Donna H., teacher's aide
paints a detailed picture of the three societies in the book. The plotline is well developed.”
â Claire N., age 16
“At times, I felt that I was watching the story unfolding rather than simply reading it.”
â Hilarie N., Claire's mom, academic administrator
“I loved reading
! For me the book was more than just an adventure story. I felt like I was witness to an important moment in humanity's history.”
â David S., application developer
“It is refreshing to see a book of this quality published for pre-teens and teens. It is age-appropriate in content, but still challenges the intellect of avid readers of this age group. I know several kids who will want to read
â Diane P., editor
“I cried at the end.”
â Burton S., age 69
“During the book, I always felt a burst of emotions.â¦a wonderful book.â¦I picked up this book and couldn' t put it down until the end. If I had to read this book 1000 more times, I would.”
â Madelyn H., age 12,
The Bismarck Tribune
Mom's Choice GOLD AWARD
Â© Copyright 2007 by Allan R. Shickman
Second printing, 2010
Manufactured in the United States of America. All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage or retrieval system without permission in writing from the author or his designated agent, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
Published in the United States by
P. O. Box 300184
St. Louis, MO 63130
All people, places, events and situations within this book are the invention and imagination of the author. Any similarities to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.
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FOR THE KIDS IN THE FAMILYâEVERYWHERE.
From a long distance a traveler, or some wild thing, might see within the deep and absolute blackness of night an intense orange light which looked from afar like a glowing coal. If that observer were curious (or hungry, as was often the case), and had the courage to seek a nearer vantage point, he would see a youthful figure seated on a rock staring into a blazing bonfire. The youth, just in his early teens, wore an expression as intense as his fire, which revealed the preoccupation of one engaged both in thought and action. In his hand he held a staff, one end of which he had briefly placed in the hottest part of the fire. He withdrew it for perhaps the tenth time to scrape the scorched end with a sharp rock, gradually shaping the hard, blunt rod into a pointed weapon. And as he worked he meditated on the events of the coming day.
There would be a hunt. A lion had killed a child and it had to be destroyed. Living, it would be a constant threat to the neighboring clans. The elders had put aside their differences in order to unite behind a single strategy in which many would participate. As the sun rose, the males of each tribe would advance toward the
wild, uninhabited region which spread between them. The clans did not much like each other, and were glad to have this desolate space separating their campfiresâa treacherous, rocky area mostly covered with tall grass and a few trees. It was now known that the beast they sought prowled somewhere within, and their intention was to encircle it. Each hunter would be separated by a considerable distance at first, but gradually they would get closer to each other as they approached their target. A very large circle would get smaller and smaller until the killer lion was sighted somewhere in the middle.
The youth knew what followed. At some point, after the ring of men had tightened around it, the lion would see that it was trapped. At that moment an experienced and watchful leader would give a loud signal to charge, and every man at once would run at it with his spear. They would assail it and harry it as many wolves in a pack combine to attack an animal larger than themselves, striking and worrying and distracting until it was bled, exhausted, and unable to resist its final end.
This was a common method of killing animals, but usually it was used to trap edible gameâdeer, pigs, and even rabbits. But this would be no rabbit. The lion was the fiercest and most dangerous creature his people ever encountered; and they encountered it by accident and bad luck only. It was avoided as much as anything aliveânever sought out except in the utmost necessity. But now they had no choice. It must be killed.
These were the thoughts that absorbed the youngster, and it was for this very hunt that he was sharpening
his spear. Although he stared into the fire as if it alone interested him, as if he were hypnotized into rigidity by its flames and sparks, it was the events of the next day that completely held his mind. He took the spear from the fire and blew on the glowing end; and as he did, his face was illuminated for a moment with an eerie light. Scraping it again for the last time, he felt the still hot point with his finger, set it aside, and looked once more into the fire.
It was horrible to think about. He knew poor Rias, the boy who had been killed. A little child, he thought, torn to pieces by a savage, hungry animal. In his mind he saw everything in terrible detail. His lip trembled, and he felt an unwelcome sickness of fear which he resisted with all of his strength. He lifted the spear yet again and honed it mechanically as he sought to steel himself for the coming day. He was afraid with all his heart, but he also knew that he must conquer his fear; because in moments of great danger, to be afraid is the surest way to die. It was not just a matter of preparing a weapon. Above all, he must prepare himself. The danger not only crouched out there in the wilderness; it crouched inside as well.
Although the lad by the fire wore the skin of an animal, he was not comfortably warm. One side of his body was too hot while the other was like ice. He changed his position, turning his face to the blackness and peering into its depths. His thoughts of the lion were brought from the coming day to the present moment. Might it not be nearer than he supposed, stalking him and watching his every move? He looked and listened intently to the tiny noises of the night. There was no dangerâat least no
more than usual. Animals feared fire. That was one of the few powerful advantages people had over them. He piled the fire high with twigs and coarser wood and welcomed the crackling response. Then he stabbed the spear into the flank of an imaginary animal, and with a ruthless expression wrenched it from the wound. Tomorrow, in the hunt, he would stand his ground, but now it was time to lie down.